First in a series of exclusive interviews of photo/tech companies founders , we start with German based Sell-News.com. Launched in 2012, Sell-News.com is a UGC bidding platform where sellers and buyers of visual news content meet :
Slawomir Rybarczyk, founder and ceo, answers our questions :
What is SellNews?
SellNews is the first online auction platform for newsworthy photos and videos. We connect photographers, professional reporters and storytellers with the media industry. Everyone capturing photos and videos with a smartphone or a digital camera can upload their media easily with our Homepage or the mobile applications (iOS, Android) and sell it. The media industry has a rich pool of news content and user generated content and can enrich their daily stories with exclusive photos and videos.
What made you decide to launch it?
I worked as an editor for a German TV station and in my time as editorial Director I was always looking for user generated content to enrich my sports news coverage. The only source we had in that time was youtube but we always had problems to reach the right people and most of the time they did’t had the rights on the content. When the first iPhone was released the plan for my idea was born . I wanted to build a platform where users all over the world could upload their content in real-time and offer their news to the media industry. We launched the open beta version of our web platform in november 2012.
Can you tell us how it is funded?
The platform was funded so far totally by the founders.
While you have an english version, it seems that all the content is German. Is that on purpose ? Germany first and then the world ?
In the current status our platform is set up for the German market. As we (founders and the team) are all in Germany we decided to launch our homepage first in Germany.
As soon as possible we want to expand internationally and for that step we programmed in English as well. We will launch the homepage and the apps within the next weeks in the EU and the U.S. market.
Does SellNews reach out to news outlets every time it receives new pictures/videos?
Yes that is right. We have a network which we contact and offer the content. We want to support all SellNews user to sell their footage. But in the most cases the news outlets search our platform for interesting news.
What happens if an image/video is not purchased? Does it go into an archive for a fix fee or is it deleted ?
If an auction is not purchased the SellNews user can decide what to do. They can restart the auction, keep the content offline or delete the content. Our service is free and the content provider can uploaded and restart their auctions as often as they want.
What have been the most interesting sells up to now?
The most interesting auctions have been a picture from princess Kate. It was taken by a SellNews reporter in Hull as she visited a charity event. Another sold photo was from Steve Wozniak as he visited the CeBIT in march 2014.
There has been a few companies with these same business model that have not succeeded. What is different with SN?
I think we have the best mix out of the right product, service and also the right time to entering the market. Our business model is unique and we got the right team with a vision and a lot of good ideas to make our business model successful. The most important for us are our customers! We are very close connected with them and talking constantly about improvements and ideas. We always listen and try to find the perfect solution for the needs of our users. Our aim is to create the perfect win win situation for both sides.
What will be a sure sign of success?
A good sign would be watching the prime time news and see a TV report with a bought photos or videos made from a SellNews reporter on CBS or NBC.
if the user generated news from our platform would be constantly on the big TV networks like CBS or CNN 😉
What is your marketing strategy to reach the millions of amateurs shooters out there that could use your platform?
First we want to develop the platform for the community where it is very easy and fast to upload and provide news to the media industry. The service should be the best that the users have fun using SellNews. We plan to start a lot of viral marketing campaigns in the social media channels and start contests for our user. Of course we will also get the viral attention through the content that will be published in the news.
What % does Sell News keep from a transaction ?
In the current beta phase SellNews receive 25% commission of every successful auction.
Will you create an On demand feature for news organization wanting to reach your users with a specific request ?
Yes, this is very important and one of the features that we will provide in the next phase. The media can publish their needs and demands to the homepage. SellNews users will be able to receive tasks with specific requests which they can fulfil and earn money.
Can you give us some insight on numbers : how many users ? How many buyers ? How many sells per month ? How many images/video uploaded ? How fast is the company growing ?
We are in the open beta since last year. The community grows from month to month. In the last 3 months we gain a lot of new customers and agencies that are very interested in cooperating with us. At the moment we are working on the implementation and optimization of the cms of several agencies in order to have a better workflow for both sides and we are working on a complete redesign of our side. We want to start a big viral marketing campaign within the next weeks.
What are upcoming new features?
There are a lot of new features that we will release within the next phase. One of the new feature will be the “one click login” with PayPal. Users can automatically login and register with their PayPal account. We are very proud to become an official partner of PayPal and looking for a lot of synergies with this coöperation.
Sell – News will be truly successful when it reaches a critical mass of users/buyers. Where do you situate the tipping point ?
…if we expand internationally and reach more than 500K users worldwide. This will be the tipping point for us.
Find out more about Sell-News.com on their website .
Author: Paul Melcher
Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.